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Mar 4, 2013

Purslow: Benitez doomed to fail

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez was never going to succeed at Stamford Bridge according to former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow.

The under siege Benitez has been fighting a losing battle to gain the trust of fans since his arrival as replacement for Roberto Di Matteo earlier this season.

Even the recent 1-0 victory over West Brom was not enough to quell the supporters' dismay, with sections of the crowd calling for the sacking of the former Liverpool coach.

The barrage of negativity finally took when the 52-year-old lashed out at the club and the fans and, in many analysts' eyes, signalled the beginning of the end of his turbulent tenure.

And Benitez's former boss Purslow believes the union between the Spaniard and Chelsea was never going to be a marriage made in heaven.

"It doesn't suit Rafa's book," he told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek. "There was a very dysfunctional ownership structure at Liverpool for that period which gave him disproportionate power, perhaps the most powerful contract in professional football for a manager, a contract that gave him much greater power than the normal manager.

"So I've got to say that when I saw him taking this job, going to a club where the reverse is true, on a temporary basis, no role in transfers, no total control, there wasn't a fit."

Purslow said one of the main factors blocking Benitez from becoming Chelsea's saviour this season was his style of man management – a trap that felled many of Benitez's predecessors.

"He feels very, very strongly that all players should be treated equally. In fact, I'd say that's almost a defining characteristic of his management strategy," he said.

"The reality is that's never true in any dressing room. You have senior pros, up and coming pros, people on their way out.

"So perhaps some people would say one needs to be a little more careful with those very senior pros. We all know that's true at Chelsea, it's been an issue with [Andre] Villas-Boas, Scolari."

But despite predicting an inevitable messy end to the Chelsea-Benitez union, Purslow did admit he was surprised the sometimes fiery Spaniard was able to keep his opinions out of the media for as long as he did.

"I don't think it was a rant, I think it was planned, because Rafa plans everything. All managers are tricky when they're working with their executive team. They are used to being in charge, they want to be in charge," Purslow said.

"Up until Tuesday I would say I've been quite surprised and impressed with the way he has kept a relatively low profile.

"He does have form in the media in terms of outbursts, particularly against employers - Valencia, Liverpool, Milan it all happened. But I'd say he's been doing a pretty good job, slightly to my surprise.

"I think he probably cares about these issues too much and focuses on them too much."

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